The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision in two cases in July, long after the Indiana General Assembly ends its 2013 session in April. Those cases involve questions about whether same-sex couples can be denied the federal benefits available to heterosexual couples and the constitutionality of California’s state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
The decision to delay the vote was supported by state Sen. Luke Kenley of Noblesville, one of the first Republicans in the Senate to publicly oppose the amendment. Kenley, the influential Senate appropriations chairman, had voted for it in 2011, but vowed to vote against the amendment this time, saying public opinion on same-sex marriage and civil unions was rapidly evolving.
“I think a year’s worth of experience will be beneficial for all of us [in the legislature] in trying to decide where we want to be on this,” Kenley said.
That sentiment was echoed by state Rep. Ed Clere of New Albany, the only Republican legislator who voted against the amendment in 2011.
“Even if there were a vote this year, the question couldn’t appear on the ballot until next year, so the delay doesn’t change anything as far as that timing,” Clere said. “Opinion on this issue is changing rapidly, and waiting will give everyone time for additional discernment.”
Clere also said he will continue to oppose the amendment.
Two recent polls have shown waning support for the amendment. In October, the Howey/DePauw Indiana Battleground Poll showed only 45 percent of Hoosier voters would support a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Among younger voters, the percentage was much less.
The 2012 Hoosier Survey done by the Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State University in December. That poll found that while Indiana residents are evenly split on the question of whether same-sex marriage should be legalized, 54 percent are against putting a ban on it into the state constitution.